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Back to school family challenge - Digital Parenting

Back to School Tips & Checklist for Parents

back-to-school parent's guide parenting Aug 14, 2023

Preparing to head back to school can be both an exciting and challenging time for parents and children.

In this article, I’ll share helpful tips that you as parents can use to help make the transition into the new academic year a little smoother. I’ve also included a handy checklist to help you feel prepared for getting you and your family ready for the back-to-school season.


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Back to school tips for parents

How’re you and your kids feeling about the prospect of heading back to school after a long break? Excited, nervous, perhaps a little overwhelmed? While all these feelings are totally normal, there are strategies you can use to help prevent the overwhelm from taking over.


Give your kids the right amount of notice

While you don’t want your kids to feel like their summer vacation is ticking away, giving them some notice of when “back to school” will start can soften that transition time and help them prepare emotionally.

You could use a calendar, planner, or chart to visualize where they’re at in their summer break. You could also schedule in any important dates or activities that will be related to them returning to school.


Plan in back-to-school shopping

While this doesn’t have to be rigid plan, setting aside some time to ensure your kids have everything they need for the new academic year can help you both feel like it’s not an overwhelming, last-minute rush.

Use the handy checklist I’ve included at the end of this article to help you work out exactly what they’ll need. If you’re able to spend some time making an inventory of what your child already has—and what’s worn out and needs replacing—this can help make the dreaded supply shop a little easier.


Make the unknown, known

Change and transition can be tricky for the best of us. Whether your children are changing teachers, classrooms, or even schools, there’s an element of the unknown there that is bound to make them feel a little nervous.

If they’re staying at the same school but switching teachers, they may well have an idea of who their new teacher will be and what they’re like. In this case, taking the time to speak to your child may be enough. This will give them the opportunity to talk through any concerns they might have and understand that feeling nervous is completely normal when there’s change ahead.

If your kid is due to change schools and enter into a whole new environment, there are steps you can take to help ease some of that uncertainty. You could try to arrange a tour of the school campus and perhaps a meeting with their new teacher. If they’re worried about their new journey to school, you could discuss it with them and potentially do some practice runs together.


Reintroduce routines in advance

Summer break can be an opportunity for the whole family to be more flexible and relaxed when it comes to day-to-day routines. There are many positives that can come from this “free time.” However, as parents we know that routine and structure are very important when it comes to heading back to school.

Rather than everyone having a shock to the system with trying to get routines like bedtimes back in sync, try a phasing in approach. This can tie in with giving your kids notice that back to school is on the horizon and preparation for it has begun. When it comes to sorting out their sleeping patterns, having a 2-week head start on earlier nights and earlier rises can be beneficial for both you and your kids.


Screen time and digital boundaries

Hopefully your children have had plenty of opportunity to get away from screens and try out loads of fun and exciting activities over the summer. However, it’s also completely normal if rules around screen times have relaxed. As with everything else in life it can be a difficult balance to strike.

But just because some of those limits may have relaxed a little, doesn’t mean that there isn’t time to reign it in a bit before the new school year.

As digital devices are becoming more and more prevalent in our children’s educational activities, it’s crucial that we help them develop boundaries around the tech they use in their leisure time too.

If you have a family media agreement that’s gone out the window over summer, why not consider sitting down with your kids and drafting a special “vacation edition”. This way, you can all compromise on some of the rules while ensuring healthy boundaries are still in place.

Of course, if you don’t already have a family media agreement, now is a great time to plan one together. This way, it’ll be firmly in place for when the children go back to school.

For more information on what the right amount of screen time is for your kids, read my guide to screen time limits by age. I’ve also created a guide on everything you need to know about making a family media agreement.


Back to school checklist for parents

To help you and your kids start your school year on the right foot, here’s my back-to-school checklist. It’s filled with reminders for lots of essential items that your child will likely need in the new academic year.



  • Notebooks
  • Pens, pencils, erasers, and highlighters
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • Binders and folders
  • Sticky notes and index cards
  • Art supplies (if required).


Staying organized

  • Planner or calendar for tracking assignments, tests, and extracurricular activities
  • Family planner or calendar for semester dates, school events and activities, etc.


School clothing and general school supplies

  • Backpack
  • Lunchbox and water bottle
  • School clothing (including uniforms if applicable)
  • Gym clothes and appropriate shoes
  • Equipment needed for after-school activities (sports gear, musical instruments, etc.)
  • Personal hygiene products such as tissues or hand sanitizer.

When it comes to weather-appropriate clothing items, you don’t need to shop for everyone season at once (especially if your kids are likely to grow out of it before that season begins!)


Educational tech

  • Laptop or tablet (if required)
  • Charging cables and accessories
  • Headphones or earbuds (if permitted in school)


Important documents

  • School registration forms
  • Emergency contact information
  • Any relevant health records or information
  • School schedule and semester dates
  • Transportation details (e.g., bus schedule)


School events and communications

  • School calendar or events schedule
  • Parent-teacher conference dates
  • School handbook and policies
  • Contact information for teachers and school staff.


School lunch and snacks

  • School cafeteria arrangements or packed lunches
  • Healthy snack options


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